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Drug Charges

Tampa Drug Charge Attorney

Being charged with a drug offense is often scary experience and can potentially alter the rest of your life. Penalties for drug crimes, especially in Florida, can be severe and include jail time and substantial fines. The impact of a drug charge can also be seen far beyond the court case.  Having a drug charge on your record can significantly impact your housing, education, or employment situation.  Whether your drug charge is a misdemeanor or felony, hiring an experienced drug crime lawyer in Tampa can be the first step in securing the best outcome for your case.

An experienced drug defense attorney can work to potentially get your charges reduced or dismissed. Search and seizure law is a common component of drug cases.  Whether the exclusionary rule applies to your situation is an important factor in evaluating the strength of the government’s case.  Do you have standing to challenge an illegal search? Did law enforcement violate your constitutional rights? An experienced Tampa drug defense attorney can help answer these questions and can work to achieve the best outcome for your criminal drug charge.

Drug Charges in Tampa, Florida

Possession of a Controlled Substance

Illegal Possession of Prescription Drugs

  • Actual or constructive possession of prescription drugs without a prescription
  • Possession of prescription drugs that exceed your prescribed quantity

Drug Trafficking

  • Key factor is amount of substance- enough can turn a possession into trafficking
  • Selling, transporting, or delivering substance is NOT required for trafficking
  • Drug trafficking within the state of Florida is a felony offense
  • Drug Trafficking often carries a minimum-maximum prison sentence in the Florida Department of Corrections

Marijuana Possession

Marijuana laws in many jurisdictions are changing to be more reflective of public opinion.  Florida has a medical marijuana program.  Possession by recreational users is not entirely legal (yet).  The “gray area” of marijuana possession in Hillsborough County and the surrounding areas is a legal landscape that is constantly changing.   Is there a diversion program available to me?  I got arrested / got a citation- but will I be prosecuted?  These are questions best answered by a lawyer.  If charged with possession of marijuana, it’s important to contact a Tampa marijuana defense attorney as soon as possible.

Possession with Intent to Sell/Distribute

  • Actual or constructive possession of a controlled substance in an amount that indicates intention to sell or distribute the substance
  • Evidence, such as scales, residue, cell-phone logs, and other factors can be used to prove there was intent to sell
  • Possession with Intent to Sell is a felony charge in the State of Florida and carries a possible prison sentence, as well as hefty fines

Trafficking Prescription Drugs

Possession of Drug Paraphernalia

  • Possession of Drug Paraphernalia in Tampa, FL is a misdemeanor charge
  • Paraphernalia can include pipes, needles, grinders, etc.

Drug Schedule in Florida

Through the DEA, drugs are classified into various schedules, ranging from I to V. The lower the schedule a drug is assigned, the more serious of a criminal charge it is. Schedule V drugs usually carry far less harsh penalties than the other scheduled drugs.

Schedule I Drugs

  • Highest Potential for Abuse
  • No medical use within the United States
  • Examples of Schedule I Drugs
    • LSD (Acid)
    • Heroin
    • Marijuana
    • GHB
    • MDMA

Schedule II Drugs

  • High potential for abuse
  • Limited medical use in the United States
  • Examples of Schedule II Drugs:
    • Cocaine
    • Opium
    • Meth
    • Opiates (such as Vicodin)
    • Adderall

Schedule III Drugs

  • Potential for Abuse
  • Has a valid medical use in the United States
  • Examples of Schedule III Drugs
    • Steroids
    • HGH
    • Testosterone
    • Ketamine

Schedule IV Drugs

  • Lower risk for abuse
  • Has a valid medical use in the United States
  • Examples of Schedule IV Drugs
    • Xanax
    • Ambien
    • Benzodiazepines (Xanax, Klonopin, Valium)
    • Muscle Relaxers (Soma)

Schedule V Drugs

  • Lower potential for abuse
  • Has a valid medical use in the United States
  • Examples of Schedule V Drugs
    • Codeine
    • Lyrica
    • Motofen
    • Lomotil

Penalties for Drug Charges in Florida

The various penalties for drug crime in Florida are outlined in Florida Statute § 893.13. The penalties for drug charges depend on the schedule of the drug involved and circumstances surrounding its discovery (e.g., was it packaged for distribution, was it found near a school, was a weapon involved).

Aside from small amounts of cannabis, possession of any controlled substance is a felony in Tampa, Florida and can result in a sentence in Florida prison. Having your drivers license suspended is also a common consequence.

Depending on the charge, the punishments can vary widely. A first-degree felony is punishable by up to 30 years in prison. A second-degree felony conviction can result in up to 15 years in prison. A third-degree felony conviction can result in up to 5 years in Florida prison. If convicted of a first-degree misdemeanor, punishment can include up to a year in jail, whereas a second-degree misdemeanor can carry up to 60 days in county jail. All these charges carry possible fines, ranging from $500 for a second-degree misdemeanor all the way up to $10,000 for a non-trafficking first-degree felony.  Convictions for drug trafficking can carry minimum-mandatory sentences, as well as fines that can reach millions of dollars.

Drug Charge Resources

Drug Defense Lawyer Near Me

An experienced Tampa drug attorney can be a pivotal ally in fighting a drug charge in Florida. The Elsea Law firm has years of experience in navigating drug charges and will work to achieve a successful outcome for you.  If you or a loved one has been arrested and charged with a drug crime, we are here to help you navigate the criminal justice system. Call the Elsea Law Firm today or fill out our contact form for a free consultation request.

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